Category: General

New Microsoft product leaked

Microsoft TV Dinner

Leaked Microsoft TV Dinner box shot

Details are sketchy, but we got our hands on one copy of the new Microsoft TV Dinner, expected to ship any day now. An unboxing video isn’t available, but the only thing inside beside the dinner was an instruction sheet containing the following: (more…)

Advanced CSS3 training in plain English

The Book of CSS3CSS3 is the technology behind most of the eye-catching visuals on the Web today, but the official documentation can be dry and hard to follow. Luckily, The Book of CSS3 distills the heady technical language of the CSS3 specification into plain English, so you can get started on your next project right away.

With real-world examples and a focus on results, The Book of CSS3 shows you how to transform ordinary text into stunning, richly detailed web pages fit for any browser. You’ll master the latest cutting-edge CSS features, like multi-column layouts, borders and box effects, and new color and opacity settings. You’ll also learn how to:

  • Stylize text with fully customizable outlines, drop shadows, and other effects
  • Create, position, and resize unlimited background images on the fly
  • Spice up static web pages with event-driven transitions and animations
  • Apply 2D and 3D transformations to text and images
  • Use linear and radial gradients to create smooth color transitions
  • Tailor a website’s appearance to smartphones and other devices

“The Book of CSS3 doesn’t waste time teaching the basics,” said Author, Peter Gasston. “It’s for experienced developers who want to build on their existing knowledge. It gets right to the good stuff, so you can put it to work on your own sites today. And the companion website offers up-to-date browser compatibility charts and live CSS3 samples for you to explore, so you can actually see the book’s examples in action as you read.”

NoStarch Press is offering a free copy of the Ebook version when you buy the print copy for just $34.95. The Ebook only version can be had for $27.95. You can also purchase a copy of the book from O’Reilly, but it does not come with a free copy of the Ebook.

AIGA Design Contract

AIGA Design Contract

The official AIGA Design Contract - customizable to suit your needs

The AIGA Standard Form of Agreement allows you to create customized terms and conditions for different types of design engagements. The contract (PDF) is modular to meet the needs of a growing design community involved in various disciplines. You can use different portions appropriate to the scope of work you’re performing. Having a contract before you begin work can go a long way in making sure you get paid for the work you do.

“F#ck You. Pay Me.” – An education video for graphic designers

Mike Monteiro, Design Director, and co-founder of Mule Design Studio gave an awesome lecture titled “F#ck You. Pay Me.” to a bunch of web designers that covers legal contracts and the design business. This is a 30+ minute video that should be mandatory material at any design school.

Tutorial: Enhance your vector image with Adobe Photoshop

Photoshop enhanced vector art

Enhancing vector art in Photoshop takes your image to the next level

The greatest value in any tutorial you come across on the web is not the actual image you create following the tutorial, but being exposed to the techniques used to create them.

Vector art ready for enhancementVectorTuts has a great tutorial on enhancing your vector art with Photoshop. The image to the right is a piece of vector art created in Adobe Illustrator. It’s flat and boring, and you could use many filters and techniques to enhance it in Illustrator, but exporting the vector file as a layered Photoshop file offers you the opportunity to learn some really useful techniques. The end result can be seen in the image at the top of this post.

As with any tutorial, I encourage you to play with the settings illustrated in the tutorial to suit your taste. The tut makes heavy use of layer effects and gradients. While the tutorial is what I would call intermediate level, it will probably take you about a half an hour to go through.

Adobe Creative Suite 5.5: digital content creation and new subscription plans

Adobe announces Creative Suite 5.5

CS5.5 focuses on digital content creation

Adobe has announced the next version of their Creative Suite software. CS5.5 is heavily focused on designers wishing to take their work to tablet, smartphone, and EPUB users. All versions of their individual apps will be updated (except Acrobat, which remains at version X), as will the Creative Suites that comprise the apps – including InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, and Flash.

Beyond the numerous features for building interactive documents for use on iPad, iPhone, and other tablets and smartphones, there’s not much information available covering feature updates for print-based designers.

An Adobe CS5.5 pricing chart is available to help you decide what versions of the Suites or individual apps you wish to purchase.

This is where it gets interesting. Adobe has also announced a new month-by-month subscription plan for all their major Creative Suites and individual applications. For instance, you can rent Dreamweaver for as little as $19 per month, or the entire Creative Suite Web Premium for $89 per month. Serious Creative Suite users will most likely still want to purchase their preferred Suites, but for those who just need to complete a quick website and only own Design Standard can rent Dreamweaver for the price of a week’s worth of coffee at Starbucks.

With any Adobe Creative Suite update comes discussion of frequency and cost of updates. Adobe is making changes in this area. From now on, the Creative Suite will be on a 24-month development cycle for major upgrades (CS3, CS4, CS5, CS6, etc.). Every 12 months they will also release a mid-cycle update (such as the CS5.5 just announced) which will offer only minor feature enhancements, bug fixes, and code tweaking. Previously, Adobe released Creative Suite upgrades around every 18 months.

Unless you’re doing a lot of work destined for a tablet, smartphone or ebook reader, you’re probably going to skip this release and wait for Creative Suite 6. But if you do that type of work, CS5.5 appears to be a dandy update.

Extensis brings Adobe Font Collection to web designers

WebINK brings Adobe fonts to web designers

WebINK brings Adobe fonts to web designers

Extensis announced that they are working with Adobe to deliver the Adobe Font Collection typefaces to the Web with its WebINK web font service.

Over 180 Adobe fonts are now available on WebINK, including some of their most recognized type families. Myriad Pro, Adobe Garamond Pro, and Chaparral Pro are just a few of the families available as Adobe Web Fonts.

“Extensis WebINK makes web site development and design easy, and integration with Suitcase Fusion 3 is a great feature for designers,” said Caleb Belohlavek, principal product manager for Type Development at Adobe. “We’re excited to collaborate with Extensis to provide customers with high-quality Adobe type for the web.”

Until recently, web browser and font license limitations have constrained Web developers to using only a handful of typefaces in their web designs. Extensis’ recent debut of WebINK breaks down these barriers, instantly delivering custom fonts straight to web browsers using WebINK’s global network. With WebINK, web designers simply indicate their chosen fonts using the @font-face rule in CSS. Developers can now choose from a huge array of fonts and quickly reference them within the site’s HTML code.

WebINK has a free 30-day trial, so you have a great opportunity to test your own website using custom web fonts. And don’t forget, WebINK is integrated into Extensis Suitcase Fusion, making it even easier to use.

Firefox 4 leads Mac browsers in battery life

Web browser effects on battery life

Firefox 4 is the best battery life browser for Mac users

Microsoft has released a fairly extensive study of browser use on laptop computers and the effects on battery life. Not surprisingly, IE 9 comes out in the lead overall. As far as Mac browsers go, Firefox 4 takes the crown, followed by Chrome and Safari. Opera brings up the rear in the study.

I’m not sure about the usefulness of the information, as your use of the browser is only one aspect in terms of how long your MacBook’s battery lasts. And how many people use enough Watts of power just surfing the web? But the information provided is interesting nonetheless.

Don’t fear the white lines in your PDFs created by InDesign

InDesign CS5You’re working on a brochure under a tight deadline, and upon opening the PDF you just exported from Adobe InDesign, you notice thin white lines around certain objects. Don’t miss your deadline spending too much time troubleshooting the InDesign file. More often than not, those white lines are simply a display glitch in the PDF caused by transparency flattening in the export process.

If you’re concerned, you can check your file in two ways. The first method is to simply open the PDF and zoom in and out – if the thin white line disappears when you zoom in and out, it’s just a display glitch.

The second method is to just run InDesign‘s Package command (Command + Option + Shift + P); when the report dialog appears, make sure you have no RGB images in use. When RGB images overlay CMYK images, transparency flattening problems can occur. If this is the case, then you definitely should convert those RGB images to CMYK before exporting your file as PDF.

Quark to ship XPress 9.0 next month

Announcing Quark XPress 9

Quark announces XPress 9, featuring tools to create eBooks and iPad apps

Quark recently announced that Quark XPress 9.0 will ship sometime in late April. The upgrade will feature a few nice features for designers creating flyers, brochures, posters and books like an improved links palette, import of images into a grid, and an integrated story editor. But the biggest new thing with XPress 9 is the interactive tools. XPress users can create and publish richly designed, interactive content for the web, eBooks, smartphones, the iPad, and more.

If you upgrade to ($299) or purchase a full version of ($799) Quark XPress 8 now, you’ll get the upgrade to version 9 for free.